When Rick Selkrig met the men who saved his life all he could give them was his heartfelt thanks and a cake to share at smoko.
There is nothing Mr Selkrig could say, no baked good big enough to express how grateful he is to Anthony Brown and Andrew Semmens for sending him back to his wife Frances in one piece.
When the paramedics were called to Scott Road, White Hills, on March 1 they thought they were heading to a minor incident where a council worker had been struck by a fallen branch.
Instead they drove into a life-or-death emergency – Mr Selkrig had been crushed by a falling mahogany gum from an adjacent property.
His torso was pinned under one of the large limbs; his body was under so much stress he has no clear memories of what happened next.
“When we first got there we quite quickly identified that you were quite critically ill and you were in a world of trouble if we didn’t do something,” Mr Brown said.
“It was a pretty dangerous scene with the high winds and part of the tree was perched on the crane.
“Because I’m small I was able to climb in underneath that branch.
“Initially it was a bit touch and go because we weren’t sure exactly how stable that branch was.
“I think your mates had that big sling and we were trying to lift it off.
“We worked on Rick extensively to stabilise him for transport to Bendigo Health.”
Mr Selkrig was then airlifted to Melbourne due to the severity of his injuries.
After months of treatment he is just starting to walk again with the aid of crutches.
Mr Selkrig has no doubts who he owes his miraculous rescue to.
“I just can’t speak highly enough of them,” he said.
“They are well trained, they got there and they knew what they were doing. They just took over and worked as a team, and if they hadn’t have I wouldn’t be here.
“They saved my life.”
Mr Selkrig said he was keen to thank the men in person.
“You see on the news and read in the paper people always criticising the ambulance for taking so long and whatever, but I’m the opposite,” he said.
“I just want to congratulate them for doing what they’ve done and being so quick.
“They were there within six minutes or something silly, that was just crazy.
“So I just want to say thanks, well done.”
Mr Semmens said he was chuffed to get a personal visit from Mr Selkrig.
“You don’t get that many opportunities. I’ve been here 16 years and can probably count on one hand the number of grateful patients you see later on,” he said.
“Even though we see a lot of patients it’s not very often we get to make a lifesaving case.
“Most of the time it’s just niceties, it’s not often you get to make a real difference.”
Mr Brown said paramedics signed up to make a difference.
“If we didn’t work as hard as we did to stabilise Rick, and the whole team approach, he doesn’t get to go home to his family, and that’s the number one importance.
“If we can make a difference on a daily basis then that’s why we all do the job.
“Sure there’s constraints, sometimes you can’t get an ambulance when you want, but that doesn’t mean all the paramedics don’t work the best they can and the fastest they can to do the best for their communities.”